How to get the most out of your mobile data plan

A new study from the research arm of the global telecommunications company, Telstra, suggests that the best way to maximize your data allowance is by keeping your data usage to a minimum.

The company, which has its own data usage policy, estimates that it costs telcos about $1.4 billion a year to keep the average smartphone user in check, with the bulk of the money coming from data charges that are passed on to you. 

The study, which was published on Tuesday in the International Journal of Information Technology and Telecommunications, examined the data usage of more than 200,000 subscribers to a range of telco plans, using data usage caps to help predict usage patterns.

The study was carried out by the Institute of Telecommunications at the University of Melbourne and looked at data usage on an average smartphone over a three-month period.

In total, it calculated that telcos charged a total of $1,907 per subscriber per month for their data plans, with a small portion of that money going to a data cap of just 1GB per month.

“Data caps are one of the main factors that lead to the increased costs of data usage for customers,” the study’s lead author, Dr Adam Koeppner, told the BBC.

“The higher the data cap, the more the cost of data increases.

It’s one of those things where the cost-benefit analysis can be quite complex.” 

While the cost per gigabyte is high, data usage is generally low in the telco’s network, with average data usage per subscriber hovering around 50GB a month.

“We believe this study provides valuable information about the impact of data caps on the overall cost of mobile data usage, as well as their impact on the efficiency of telcos’ networks,” Telstra said in a statement.

“We believe that these findings provide valuable information for decision-makers and for customers to be able to make informed decisions about data plans and how they’re utilised.”